Rumbalara Environmental Education Centre

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The platypus is a unique and engaging animal loved by people of all ages. Although shy and rarely observed they are found in many waterways, even those close to human habitation. In addition to the specific danger from traps, there are many other activities in the catchment that impact on platypus and other wildlife such as invertebrates that make up the platypuses' food supply can be affected by stream sedimentation and pollution. A focus on platypus provides a compelling way to interest students in caring for catchments. 

This resource has the potential to save Platypuses and to save students from the distress of accidentally killing them. Students are curious explorers of waterways and are likely to be interested in using yabby traps. This resource warns them of the danger and presents a simple problem that students can solve using knowledge and skills from a variety of key learning areas such as English and creative arts (media and communication), design and technology (trap design), science (platypus biology) and Human society and its environments (surveys, catchment management).

Curriculum links

Below are listed some syllabus links and activities that may be utilised within schools to further the cause:

Download the Primary Stages 1-3 (DOC 33KB) for more information.

Download the High School Stages 4-5 (DOC 39KB) for more information.

Download the High School Stage 6 (DOC 48KB) for more information.

Stage 1 activities

Download the read a platypus Aboriginal story (PDF 223KB) for more information.

Download the colouring sheet (PDF 823KB) for more information.

Stage 6 activity

A unit of work focused on platypuses could follow a similar model to that provided for Middle School. This kind of approach is well suited to the science Stage 6 syllabus that considers the use of technology (like yabby traps), the relationship between organisms and the environment (biology and environment of platypuses) and undertaking investigations (how to stop platypuses from dying in yabby traps).

This unit could also incorporate elements of the geography syllabus by looking at the distribution of platypuses (Such as using Wildlife Atlas).

Platypus research

An excellent resource that has been used widely in preparing this CD resource is:

The Platypus a Unique Mammal, Tom Grant. 2002 UNSW Press Australian Natural History Series

Research topics for platypus:

  • Australian Wildlife Health Network: Situation Report (DOC 45KB) (preliminary update notification, November 2005)
  • Australia Nature, Spring 1995 – Platypus Pursuits (By attaching radio-tags to platypuses, scientists have learned a lot about their living habits)
  • Australia Nature, Spring 1996 – Metropolitan Monotremes (Much to many people's surprise, a recent survey has shown that platypuses inhabit the rivers and creeks of big cities. It seems they're not adverse to having us as neighbours as long as we clean up after ourselves)
  • Australia Nature, Winter 2005 – Trapped! (Too often platypuses, turtles and other wildlife drown in traps used in freshwater fisheries. But hopefully, a new trap design that allows non-target animals to escape will be adopted in our waterways).

Stage 3 activity

What is the problem?

Find out about platypuses

Find out about Yabbies

What about in our local area?

Find out about yabby traps

Questions to discuss in class:

  • why are platypus drowning in yabby traps?
  • do you know somebody who catches yabbies? ask them how they do this? What do they use? where do they go? how often would they catch a yabby when they do this? do they ever catch anything else?
  • visit a local fishing store – what kind of traps are there? how much are they? do you need a license to buy one?  ask the shop assistant about the traps – how many do they sell? how do the traps work? what's the most popular type of trap? are there any rules or regulations about using the traps?
  • Search the web – do a web search about yabby traps, in particular, look at websites for National Parks and Fisheries.

How can we help?

Brainstorm ways that we can stop platypus from dying in yabby traps.

  • break into groups and develop an idea for a project

  • think about the following questions:

    - who do we need to influence?

    - what do we need to get them to do

    - what do they need to know?

    - how do we get that information to them?

  • present your group's idea back to the class.

Start a platypus monitoring program in your local area

Think about:

  • who would do the monitoring?
  • where and when would they do the monitoring?
  • what do they need to know?
  • what do they need to record?
  • where does the information go?
  • how is the information then shared?